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Desperate Hours

(Star Trek: Discovery #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,669 ratings  ·  265 reviews
An all-original novel based upon the explosive new series on CBS All Access

Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Gallery Books
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,669 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve had this Discovery novel (plus the next one) sitting on my TRP for ages, I’d kind of forgotten that I had them until Season Two starting airing.
I really wished I started these sooner!

Serving as a prequel to the first episode as it taking place approximately a year before the Shenzhou’s mission to the binary stars.
This book gives a fascinating backstory to Captain Georgiou, Michael Burnham and Lieutenant Saru.
With an alien attack on the Federation colony, both the U.S.S. Shenzou and the
Sean Randall
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, having enjoyed the onscreen debut of Discovery tremendously I settled down to read this novel hoping for a good yarn. And it being Mack, of course that's exactly what I got. One does feel as if the introduction of too many officers in one paragraph might have not been such a good idea, and it is hard to match Mack's description of Nambue with his televised depiction, but apart from those small things the characterisations don't seem too bad.

The plot is interesting, and of course it's
jess bennett ⋆
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, kindle
Turns out Sarek’s estranged kids bonding over their weirdo strict dad while trying not to get killed by an ancient Goliath is my exact sci-fi aesthetic.

5 stars.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After watching the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery I really wanted to have more information on the lead character Michael Burnham. This book exceeded all expectations on offering just that.

Now I am looking forward to the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery with a much better understanding of who Michael Burnham is. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that you get a lot more character understanding the rest of the Walker Class starship crew commanded by Captain Philippa
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve never read a Star Trek novel before, so I’m not sure how this compares to its predecessors, but I thoroughly enjoyed Desperate Hours.

The reason I rated the novel four stars instead of five is because the writing felt clinical. It read as if Mack was given an outline of the plot and was told to fill in the blanks. I’m not sure if the writing is supposed to reflect the cold, clinical way of the Vulcans, but I’m not a fan.

What I enjoyed most about Desperate Hours was the insight into the key
3.5 stars.

Well, this has David Mack going for it, so automatic bonus points!

While I like Discovery (on its own merits, but not necessarily as good Star Trek!), and this was a competent if not exceptional book, am I invested enough to continue another Trek novel series? I'm not sure. (I'm still working thru the Enterprise and Voyager relaunch books.)

I'll likely give it at least one more book before making a decision.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was exactly what I wanted it to be. It gives great insight into the time of Discovery, how it fits into TOS, and most of all, how Spock and Burnham relate to one another.
Matthew Rushing
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, 2017
I’d say it’s 2.5 Stars. It’s an average Star Trek story that works better than the actual premiere of the show because you can exchange the visuals in your mind to match the time periods aesthetic. Frustratingly the book is hampered by trying to recon the Discovery look with the TOS look and it’s just not working for me. At least Burnham comes off better here than in the show as well. I like her much more Vulcan.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kieran McAndrew
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a colony world is attacked by a mysterious alien craft which appears to have been encapsulated under the sea bed for nine million years, the U.S.S. Shenzou is dispatched to provide assistance.

As the full extent of the threat becomes clear, Starfleet realises that Captain Georgiou may be unwilling to carry out General Order 24 and order Captain Pike and the U.S.S. Enterprise to render assistance and, if necessary, do what Georgiou will not. Obliterate a planetary population to save the
Yanesh Tyagi
After watching the first two episodes of Discovery, there was an urge to know more of Burnham. Desperate Hours fills that gap. Now I know about her relationship with Spock and her family. It also helped to understand why Burnham is who she is.

The story is well told and characters well developed. Apart from Burnham, it gives us insights into Saru and his captain.

There came a time when Enterprise and Burnham's ship came to fire on each other. One defending Starfleet principles and other following
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Must read for a fan! Not only will you get to know Michael and Saru better, but also Captain Pike and Mister Spock from Enterprise among others! Action, excitement, some tears - a very easy read too without too much technobabble.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Star Trek Discovery fans and those who are curious
I've tried to read a few other Star Trek novels and didn't find them very compelling, but this one really works. It's got just the right balance of technical information, interpersonal relationships, politics, red alerts, and exploring strange new worlds. It would have provided a compelling introductory episode to the new Discovery series as it begins with Michael Burnham being promoted to become Georgiou's Number One (beating out Saru). It also helps to set a time frame for the series with a ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gallery-books
Of course I enjoyed this one, see above, it's a Star Trek. But ESPECIALLY I liked Burnham and Spock being prickly and sacrificial at each other (so vulcan, honestly), and Captain Georgiou being wonderful (though the insistence on making trek characters love mid-20th century american music, and here listening to it on VIYNL, is hilarious as always), and details about Saru backstory! We didn't get those details in the show! I ate them hungrily whenever they appeared.

AND(view spoiler)
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always a great story from David Mack. I'll admit this isn't my favorite book of Mack's, (but when you've written stuff like the Vanguard series, the Destiny & Cold Equations trilogy, Disavowed, Control, A Time to Kill & I could go on & on) it's pretty hard to to yourself. However as hard a book as I imagine this was to write (since he would've had only very limited information on the characters) I think it came out really good & entertaining. A 9 million year old alien ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: star-trek
A story that features strong character moments and insights, not only for the Discovery characters Burnham, Saru, and Georgiou, but also for "special guest stars" Pike, Spock, and Una. A fairly typical Trek story plot-wise, but still very enjoyable and a fun adventure set aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou. Four out of five stars!

Full review (video):
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5. The Discovery characters were all perfectly in character, as far as I know about them, anyway. The star and a half taken off are due to:

The writer making Burnham the most boring character of all time in this book. She's not this boring in the show; just kind of generic lead but they definitely sucked out any personality she had. Her backstory does add some interesting stuff to the show, so it might be just because I've already seen the episode where her relationship with Sarek is gone into,
C.T. Phipps
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for the novels to be handed over to the same people who have always handled the novels for what I considered to be the "James Luceno effect." Which is a reference to James Luceno getting offered to do a Star Wars novel after the canon reboot and the immediate effect being he incorporated as much previous Expanded Universe into the book as humanly possible. In this case, David Mack does an excellent job of handling a much bigger job of making it clear not only does Discovery fit into ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: star-trek
How is any future "Star Trek: Discovery" book supposed to top THIS? "Desperate Hours" is simply the finest 'first' book in a Trek series since Pocket Books' original release of "The Entropy Effect". Apparently series co-creator Bryan Fuller asked for this backstory-heavy introduction to be written...and it pays off in spades. So much historical and canon goodness! So many great guest stars! A truly epic alien threat, and a fleshing out of the USS Shenzou & its crew to such a glorious degree ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book

It’s probably been forty years since I read a Star Trek novel, although I read the original “Making of Star Trek” books and probably one or two of the novels when I was a teen and considered myself a Trekkie.

When this came across my screen almost immediately after I started a subscription to CBS ALL ACCESS so I would be able to watch the show, I thought, “Hell, Yes!”

This is a new Star Trek
Tim Morgan
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A competent, if middling, effort from David Mack opens what is (so far) a series of prequel novels for Star Trek: Discovery. The plot pits the U.S.S. Shenzhou, featured in the television series' pilot, against the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Pike in a stand off over a troubled colony world, in a clash of orders and ideologies.

There's a [i]lot[/i] to unpack here, but the best part of the book is getting to know the Shenzhou crew better than we had a chance to on screen.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-kindle, nobledark
I already knew David Mack as the author of the excellent, epic Destiny trilogy, which chronicled the final apocalyptic war between the Federation and the Borg, so I had good expectations despite knowing nothing about the new Star Trek series. Still, I was really surprised at how engrossing this book and its characters were, especially the backstory of Michael and Spock. We are off to a great start.

And to think, our pure, noble Starfleet has an Exterminatus option! Noooo, you were supposed to
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: star-trek
“Now you have gravitas.”

I certainly enjoyed this Discovery or pre Discovery novel very much. Learning more about the crew members who barely get screen time was great and of Captain Georgiou before her departure from the show, as it were.

The story of a slumbering death machine which might be unstoppable being awoken is compelling. Add in some other everyone on the planet might die and hostage negotiations and you have yourself a true Mack book.

It make Burnham more likeable which is a good
Brayden Raymond
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: star-trek
5 Stars. There is no other option. Any fan of Discovery must read this book. The tie-ins are absolutely incredible and the story itself is riveting. There is not a dull moment as multiple fan favourites come together to try and resolve an issue that seems unsolvable. After this novel Captain Georgiou makes her claim in my opinion to truly stand among the great Captains we know and love, such as Kirk and Sisko. I am excited to read the next Disocvery novel to hit the shelves as this one has set a ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a nice sequel to Star Trek Discovery, with more insight into some of that series’ characters, and with explanations as to the changes uniforms etc. It is also, however, somewhat long and sometimes glacial in its narrative. It was an enjoyable enough read but - to me at least - not exactly a page turner. The Spock/Burnham interactions were nice, and I love that Captain Pike showed up (though his actions felt out of character to me sometimes). Still looking forward to the next one, ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not much of a Trek fan - never watched ToS, nor the original movies, nor the Enterprise series (though I have seen all of TNG, DS9, and Voyager, and the Next Generation movies), but I couldn't resist Discovery with its 2 women of colour leads, and therefore when I found out that David Mack had written a prequel novel, I had to read it.

It's an easy read, and gives a fair bit of backstory for Michael Burnham, and explores her relationship with both Sarek and Spock.
Jan 25, 2019 added it
I have to DNF this one. I love Star Trek: Discovery so much, but I think it works on television much better. I'm also a stickler for consistency and there were minor discrepancies between the book and the show. This is another case of the book not being bad - it just isn't for me.
Oz Trekkie
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I think I liked it more than the first 2 eps!!! Great story David Mack.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The mystery surrounding what the rig struck pulled me in while I acquainted myself with the crew of the Shenzhou as I've only seen the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery to date. I ended up loving the story and the characters, particularly Burnham, Spock, and Saru.
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David Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of science-fiction, fantasy, and adventure, including the Star Trek Destiny and Cold Equations trilogies.

Beyond novels, Mack's writing credits span several media, including television (for produced episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), film, and comic books.

Follow him on Twitter @davidalanmack or join his fans on

Other books in the series

Star Trek: Discovery (6 books)
  • Drastic Measures
  • Fear Itself (Star Trek: Discovery #3)
  • The Way To The Stars
  • Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War
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“Don’t tell me,” Burnham cut in. “It’s fascinating.” Spock said nothing in response, but he could not help but appear mildly put out.” 3 likes
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” 2 likes
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